Role-playing provides the opportunity to prepare, strengthen and review workers’ skills in dealing with the public. A scenario is acted out by company staff, or a worker and training facilitator, generally without a script. One person portrays the customer, while the other plays the worker and assumes the position used in daily business interactions. Discussions of the presentation usually follow. While specific situations differ from business to business, a common set of general issues can be addressed through role-playing.
Uncomfortable situations can arise from misunderstandings. One such scenario could center on a mismarked item and discussion of exchange policies. For instance, a customer making a purchase tells the cashier that the price of a shirt rang up incorrectly. The consumer expected to pay the sale price of $12.99 for a $34.99 shirt. During subsequent discussion, it is determined the shirt was placed on a sale rack where it didn’t belong. A key measure of success can be attained by observing how the clerk handles matters, first by using an understanding customer and then an aggravated one. Discussion can follow on how to prevent misunderstandings from recurring.
Customers expect workers to be knowledgeable and available to assist them. If an employee witnesses a customer repeatedly pacing store aisles, he can ascertain that a search for a specific item is occuring. After asking if he can provide assistance and exchanging preliminary info, the worker realizes the store doesn’t carry the item needed, athough he has similar products from other manufacturers. Witness fact-finding methods used, as well as the worker's knowledge of the inventory, to zero in on the customer’s needs. Other scenarios can entail servicing a customer, either in person or by phone, with a thick, hard-to-understand accent, dealing with indecisive customers, or handling a couple with differing opinions on a product.
The pivotal aspect with mistakes is knowing how to handle them after the fact. Admitting one was made, then apologizing should precede finding an acceptable solution for both the customer and the business. A woman opens a package ordered, discovering that the wrong ceramic musical figurine was shipped. She is especially upset because the figurine is intended as a special gift for her mother's 80th birthday in two weeks and plays a sentimental song that her deceased husband loved. The customer is both angry and frustrated that her moment of generosity will be spoiled and vents that to the voice on the other end, even though he wasn’t directly involved in the error. Discover how that, and similar situations involving damage control can be diffused.
Phone and Online Etiquette
With increasingly busy lives and improved technology, customers and clients often prefer to communicate with businesses via the telephone or online. Role-play a phone conversation between a customer service representative and customer calling in to order a certain product or service. Notice how the worker greets the caller, requests necessary information, answers questions and ends the call. Other phone etiquette practice should include placing callers on hold, transferring calls and handling irate callers with complaints. Reveal a hypothetical customer question submitted through email, and have a worker type a response. Connect the computer to a large screen so onlookers can see what is being typed. Discuss the tone, grammar, conciseness and professionalism of the emailed response.